In 1992, world leaders adopted Agenda 21, the work program of the 1992 U.N. Conference on Environment and Development. This landmark event provided a political foundation and action items to facilitate the global transition toward sustainable development. The international community marked the tenth anniversary of this conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, in August 2002. Down to Earth, a component of the U.S. State Department's "Geographic Information for Sustainable Development" project for the World Summit, focuses on sub-Saharan Africa with examples drawn from case-study regions where the U.S. Agency for International Development and other agencies have broad experience. Although African countries are the geographic focus of the study, the report has broader applicability. Down to Earth summarizes the importance and applicability of geographic data for sustainable development and draws on experiences in African countries to examine how future sources and applications of geographic data could provide reliable support to decision-makers as they work towards sustainable development. The committee emphasizes the potential of new technologies, such as satellite remote-sensing systems and geographic information systems, that have revolutionized data collection and analysis over the last decade.
"Down to Earth is one of those books that grabs your attention from the moment you see it on the shelf. ... The book follows a clear and logical structure. ... The book combines social science and geospatial data techniques and applications in an accessible, clear and interesting way. I would strongly recommend the book not just to those interested in GIS but to anyone interested in environmental management generally. Though the book focuses on Africa, the issues it addresses, the processes, techniques and methods followed the lessons learned have applicability to a wide range of countries and environmental situations."
-- International Development Planning Review, 2003